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Posada designates himself a sitter

By Nick Cafardo
May 15, 2011

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NEW YORK — We understand the frustration of hitting .165, of having your position taken away and being moved to one that is foreign to you. We understand there may be some humiliation in being dropped to ninth in the batting order, but what Jorge Posada did last night was unprofessional for a player who has won four championships and who has always conducted himself with integrity.

Posada didn’t do himself any favors after the game as he tried to explain his actions.

For one, the catcher-turned-DH never told his manager, his general manager, or his trainer that his back was bothering him. He simply walked into Joe Girardi’s office about an hour before game time and said he needed a day to clear his head.

Girardi said he didn’t ask any questions, knowing when a player asks for a day to clear his head, you oblige. Then, Girardi said, “I had to make out a new lineup and get the other guy [Andruw Jones] ready.’’

Posada’s reputation is now somewhat blemished. His legacy is now somewhat tainted and his explanation was really bad.

His wife Laura tweeted during the game that her husband was experiencing back spasms. His father told the YES Network that his son made a poor decision.

“I needed first to clear my head and that was it,’’ Posada said. “My back stiffened up a little bit. I was taking live ground balls at first base. I wasn’t 100 percent.’’

This is a guy, mind you, known for his toughness. It brought back the whole Nomar Garciaparra incident against the Yankees in 2004 when he sat out claiming his Achilles’ was too sore to play.

Posada claimed his request had nothing to do with batting ninth.

“That doesn’t matter,’’ he said. “I talked to you guys [media] before the game, I was clear with that. I put myself in that position [being dropped to ninth]. In that situation, I didn’t hit the way I wanted. I was looking forward to playing the game.’’

And then he said his back was not seriously injured. He said he had a chiropractor look at him during the game, but never went to the trainers. Girardi said he didn’t find out about the back issue until after he’d been ejected from the game in the seventh inning. He and Posada never spoke during the game.

And then Posada seemed irked at GM Brian Cashman for updating the media during the game.

“I don’t understand why he made a statement in the middle of the game. That’s the way he works now,’’ Posada said.

Asked if he was mad at Cashman, Posada said, “Ah, well, we’ll see. I think we should have waited for the game to be over to talk rather than talk to whoever during the game. You’re not supposed to do that.’’

And a player is supposed to tell his manager and organization that his back hurts.

Someone so tough is supposed to suck it up when the team is going as badly as the Yankees are right now. After all, Posada’s played through far worse as a catcher. As a DH? Posada should never have brought up his back to the media if he didn’t bring it up with his manager. Just tell the truth: He needs to clear his head. End of story.

Asked whether he had cleared his head, Posada said, “I need a little bit more time. I need to talk to my wife and people around me and have a nice conversation and be here tomorrow.’’

Might he be mulling retirement?

“No. I still want to be here. I love playing for this organization. Hopefully we can move on,’’ Posada said.

Asked if he’s felt disrespected since November, when he was told he would no longer be catching, he said, “A little bit.’’

The Yankee brass will have to decide whether Posada should be fined or suspended for his behavior. As one of the core players still left, maybe he gets some leeway.

“This is a situation we will take care of,’’ Girardi said. “Players go through tough times in this game. Sometimes we need days to clear our head and take a deep breath. I’ve been there. I’ve been through struggles. This season has been a struggle. He’s tried to fight through it and today he felt he needed a day.’’

The Red Sox’ David Ortiz, a longtime friend of Posada’s, weighed in after the game.“You know what I think? They’re doing that guy wrong,’’ said Ortiz. “You know why? That guy, he is legendary right there in that organization. And dude, DHing [stinks]. DHing is not easy.

“From what I heard, they told him from the very beginning that he’s not even going to catch bullpens. That straight up will start messing with your head. And you’re going to tell me that Posada can’t catch a game out there? Come on, man.’’

Regarding Posada’s actions, Ortiz said, “You don’t do that. But that’s what I’m trying to tell you guys. The confusion, the frustration that you’re living in sometimes makes you make mistakes. He’s not perfect. He’s a human, just like everyone else. He probably [thought] it was the right thing to do, but now you see that [it wasn’t].’’

There’s no way Posada can come out of this with his reputation intact unless he admits he was wrong. Completely wrong. Because he was. And when he can think clearly, he will likely admit that. Love or hate the Yankees, Posada has always been a class act. Until last night.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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